The first trailer for Tom Hooper's movie adaptation of Cats has landed, featuring multiple songs from the long-running West End and Broadway musical. Featuring music by Andrew Lloyd-Webber, and based on a book of poems by T.S. Eliot, Cats is about a tribe of felines called the Jellicles who gather together one night at an event called the Jellicle Ball, where one will be chosen to ascend and be reborn with a chance at a new life.
Cats has an all-star cast that includes Judi Dench as Jellicle leader Old Deuteronomy, Jennifer Hudson as Grizabella, Idris Elba as the dastardly villain Macavity, Jason Derulo as Rum Tum Tugger, James Corden as Bustopher Jones, Ian McKellen as Gus the Theater Cat, and Taylor Swift as Bombalurina. Unlike the stage show, which features elaborate make-up and costumes, Cats brings the Jellicles to life with CGI fur, bodies and tails that many have found to be a little disturbing. Still, at least the trailer can't be faulted for its music.
There are three songs from Cats featured in the movie trailer. The first and most prominent is "Memory," sung by Jennifer Hudson in the role of Grizabella, a once-glamorous cat who has experienced a downturn in fortune and is shunned by her fellow Jellicles. In the middle portion of the trailer, the upbeat instrumental song heard is "Overture," the opening number of the musical. Finally, there's a short interlude where Rebel Wilson's Jennyanydots performs part of her tap number "Beetle Tattoo" (from "The Old Gumbie Cat") before sitting down and getting her hand caught in a mouse trap.
Hooper is no stranger to the musical genre, having adapted Les Misérables for the big screen in 2012. For that movie the director made the bold decision to record the actors singing on set rather than dubbing over the audio later, but it looks like Cats has taken a more traditional approach. There is a notable parallel between Anna Hathaway's "I Dreamed a Dream" from Les Mis and Hudson's take on "Memory," with both tragic ballads being sung in teary-eyed close-ups.
The internet's reaction to Cats may not necessarily be positive, but there's no question that the movie's trailer has had a huge impact that will make it impossible to forget. The quality of the music is naturally a make-or-break factor when it comes to musical adaptations, and weird cat faces aside, it does look like Hooper's film does justice to Lloyd-Webber's music - as well as the original stage musical's elaborate cat dances.
- Cats (2019) release date: Dec 20, 2019